How to Exit Gracefully

With the job market being so active right now, many people are getting exciting offers and have to go through the nerve-racking process of giving notice, otherwise known as the “Corporate Breakup.” There are many ways to give notice, but it’s tough to give notice gracefully with all relationships and reputations intact.

Let’s face it, the commercial real estate market is an extremely small and tight knit community. It is imperative that you don’t burn any bridges when you leave your existing firm, since you never know when you might need a professional reference or end up working with a former colleague in the future.

Following is a list of ways to ease the pain of the “breakup:”

  1. Choose the right time to leave and make sure you leave on a high note.  Don’t have one foot out the door and low productivity prior to your departure.  You want to be remembered as a hard working member of the team.
  2. Give adequate notice.  Two weeks is standard and in many cases three weeks might be better.  The most important consideration for you to take into account is the ease of transition for once you depart.  Make sure everyone on your team knows the status of your current projects and where they can find any information they might need.
  3. Give your boss time to absorb and process your resignation.  Ask how they would like the rest of the team to be informed; don’t start blabbing to all of your co-workers about how you’re “out of here” before you have the boss’s consent.
  4. Always be gracious even if you hated working for your current firm.  Again, you never know when you’ll need a professional reference.
  5. Here’s one of the most important things to remember: make sure your firm knows it’s for good.  A lot of firms will make a counter offer; however, in most cases, the reasons for leaving go far beyond a salary increase.  Some employer’s will even feel resentment towards the employee who accepts a counter offer.

At the end of the day, it’s always tough to say goodbye to your existing employer.  Recently I had a candidate leave on an absolutely wonderful basis.  He was a well-respected and highly successful professional at his existing firm.  He had opportunity for growth, but the firm was small and there was only so much more that he could learn.  His current firm was even paying for his MBA.  When he gave notice, they were shocked and they did ask if there was anything they could do to change his mind.  He graciously thanked them for the time he’d spent working at their firm; however, he went on to explain that him leaving was more about spreading his wings and continuing to learn and experience new challenges vs. them giving him more money.  They were sad to see him leave, but understood his reasoning.  They did not ask him to pay back any of his MBA tuition and told him he’d always have a place in their organization if he decides to come back.  That’s the way to give notice.